Every ministry needs to pay salaries, keep the lights on, keep the building heated or cooled, and keep the insurance up to date. In the last couple of years, inflation has had a negative impact on nearly every church and ministry organization. It takes more resources today to do ministry than at any other time in recent history. However, most congregants don’t dream about paying for the utilities or property and liability insurance premiums. They want to make a Kingdom impact with their giving. In his recent article, “Pastors Who Truly Love Their People Preach on Giving,” Will Browning, Send Network California Director, said it is “more loving to preach on generosity,” and he is right. When wise pastors preach on giving, they are actually casting vision and preaching about what God might do in and through their congregation while members learn generosity. Wise pastors talk about vision instead of need. They say things like, “Imagine what God could do in our families and our neighborhoods if each of us were generous.” Or “Just think about the kingdom impact in our community if we had the resources to do this ministry. God could bring dozens of people in our community to faith in Christ because of your generosity.”
Several pastors have recently shared with me that attendance is up year-over-year, but income is either flat or down for the same time period. One pastor suggested that he needed to preach on the subject and tell the congregation about the church’s need to make budget and pay the bills. While this type of transparency is good and admirable, people usually don’t give toward need. No one wants to feel like they are aboard the Titanic. Instead, they want to hear how God might use their generosity to make a difference for the kingdom. Giving and generosity are certainly obedience issues. The Bible discusses giving and generosity more often than other important topics like faith, hope, and love. Giving is at the core of the Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son …” (John 3:16). The Bible is clear about this subject, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Most pastors don’t hesitate to preach on spiritual disciplines. Spending time in prayer is necessary to be a devoted follower of Jesus. Reading and studying God’s Word is how we know God and His will for our lives. Being in community with other believers helps sharpen us and mold us into the image of God. However, pastors are often apprehensive to preach on the spiritual discipline of generosity. The reality is that giving is as much a spiritual discipline as prayer, fasting, Bible study, and gathering with other believers.
When focusing on generosity, I suggest using these three preaching guidelines.
- Always emphasize the personal impact giving will have on one’s spiritual life. Although this isn’t the motive for generosity, the giver is always blessed in return (Proverbs 11:25).
- Highlight what God can do in and through a local church when its members practice generosity in giving. There is no greater investment than the Kingdom of God (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
- Teach that giving is an act of obedience and demonstrates the condition of one’s heart (Matthew 6:21).
Giving is such an important discipline for our lives that Jesus spoke about it often. Giving helps break the grip of materialism on our lives. Giving draws us closer to God. Giving strengthens our faith. Giving is investing in eternity as Jesus discussed in Matthew 6:19-20. Giving is about the hope we have as believers. In that way, every pastor should be excited to preach on generosity. All in all, just remember that casting vision (not discussing need) encourages generosity.